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Pangos All-American Camp Friday: UCLA commit Lonzo Ball has a great opening night

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LONG BEACH, Ca. – The opening night of play at camps like the annual Pangos All-American Camp is usually sloppy and littered with uninspired basketball.

Between camp teammates barely having a chance to learn each other’s names — let alone complicated sets — and also experiencing travel lag from making the camp, it isn’t necessarily the best time to see a prospect play a complete game of basketball.

UCLA commit Lonzo Ball changed that notion with his play on the opening night of the 12th annual Pangos camp on Friday night.

In a highly-touted matchup of 2016 five-star guards between Ball and Findlay Prep point guard Derryck Thornton, Ball was clearly the better player on Friday night, although the two have dramatically different games.

Ball is just a complete basketball player with a tremendous feel for the game and IQ. At 6-foot-5, Ball is the No. 14 player in Rivals.com‘s 2016 rankings and he has great size with the ball in his hands and the future Bruin is a tremendous passer in delivering to shooters or finding a big man in the post. Ball might be slow-footed defensively to guard quicker lead guards, but his hands and instincts are good enough to still make some plays in the passing lanes against wings that play more off-the-ball.

The 6-foot-1 Thornton is the No. 20 prospect in those same rankings and he has a lot of tools to work with, including a killer first step and crossover. But Thornton spends far too much time pounding the ball into the floor while trying to hunt for his own offense.

While Ball just played basketball and let the game come to him, Thornton instead seemed focused on the one-on-one matchup and it showed with some bad shots and overaggressive drives to the hoop.

Isaiah Briscoe battles Tyler Dorsey: While the Ball vs. Thornton matchup was the undercard of Friday night’s action, thanks in-part to it’s earlier slotting, the main matchup on the opening night featured a pair of high-level guard prospects in the 2015 class as Isaiah Briscoe matched up with Arizona commit Tyler Dorsey.

Briscoe and Dorsey spent a good portion of the game on each other and it made for some interesting basketball in the second game on Friday night. Much like the first matchup of elite guards, both Briscoe and Dorsey got a little too consumed with hunting their own offense, but they both made scoring plays and plays as passers and you can’t fault the clear best players on the floor for wanting to take the majority of the shots.

The slight edge probably goes to the 6-foot-3 Briscoe because he is more effective against physical play and he’s a much better passer — specifically moving the ball up the floor on the break. Dorsey is a better athlete, however, and has more upside getting in the lane and making plays around the rim thanks to his 6-foot-4 size and leaping ability.

Jennings becomes seventh player to transfer from Kentucky

Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell watches his team during the team's regional semifinal in the NCAA women's college basketball tournament against Washington in Lexington, Ky., Friday, March 25, 2016. Washington won 85-72. (AP Photo/James Crisp)
(AP Photo/James Crisp)
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell has announced that sophomore forward Alexis Jennings will transfer, the seventh Wildcat to leave the program since last fall.

Jennings’ departure comes a week after Mitchell publicly addressed the mass exodus of players and assistant coaches and stressed the need for building stability. Jennings figured to be part of that process and the coach said in a release Wednesday night that “it saddens us that Alexis did not see a path for her at Kentucky. … She felt it was in her best interest to finish her career elsewhere and we owe her that opportunity.”

The 6-foot-2 Jennings started 18 of 33 games last season and averaged 10 points and 7.1 rebounds.

DePaul adds 2018 commit

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Wisconsin guard John Diener has committed to DePaul, his grassroots program announced Wednesday night.

The 6-foot-4 Class of 2018 guard ends his recruitment rather early with offers also from instate schools Green Bay and Milwaukee. He’s known as a shooter and becomes the first commit for Dave Leitao in the 2018 class.

Diener, who plays with the Wisconsin Playground Warriors in the spring and summer, commits to the Blue Demons with them coming off a disappointing campaign, Leitao’s first in Chicago. DePaul went 9-22 overall and 3-15 in the Big East, finishing only ahead of St. John’s.

DePaul has been recruiting the Midwest hard with incoming 2016 recruits from La Lumiere School in Indiana, Sagninow, Mich. and locally in Chicago.

Four-star guard Fisher commits to TCU

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Jamie Dixon’s presence is already being felt in the Big 12 and on the recruiting trail.

TCU received its first commitment of the Dixon era when four-star 2016 point guard Jaylen Fisher announced his decision to join the Horned Frogs on Wednesday.

“Due to how comfortable my family and I are with the coaching staff,” Fisher posted from his Twitter account, “and the emphasis the university has put on making basketball a priority, I’m committing to be a student-athlete at TCU.”

Getting a consensus top-75 prospect, who was once committed to UNLV, is a heck of a coup for being just a couple months on the job. It instantly shows the Frogs are going to be a player for some of the country’s top players, which is a necessity if you have designs on making a move up the ladder of arguably the country’s best league in the Big 12.

Maybe the most gratifying thing for TCU, though, is the reason Fisher publicly stated for making his decision, the school’s “making basketball a priority.” The hoops program has suffered immensely in the Big 12 (while the football program has flourished), winning a total of eight games in their four seasons (including a winless 2014), but the school sank $72 million into renovating its arena, made an aggressive move in firing Trent Johnson and then went out and got its dream candidate, Dixon, an alum. Fisher’s commitment is the first time those moves have shown that commitment to basketball paying off.

 

Report: Izundu’s San Diego State transfer ban rescinded

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Washington State transfer Valentine Izundu will be visiting San Diego State after all.

Coach Ernie Kent has rescinded his restriction on the 6-foot-10 graduate transfer from visiting the Aztecs, according to a report from the Spokesman-Review, citing an anonymous source. Izundu will also be reportedly visiting Fresno State and UNLV.

Izundu had previously been barred from considering the Aztecs by Kent because of suspcisions of tampering. Izundu vigorously denied that was the case as at the center of the dispute was a trip he made to San Diego for spring break. He publicly said he did not have any contact with the SDSU coaching staff , though he attended an Aztecs NIT game.

Kent, though, appears to have relented, as many coaches who have similarly faces public pressure in such situations before him have. In this era where so much attention is being paid to player rights and welfare, there only seems to be growing public sentiment against programs restricting transfers beyond the absolute bare minimum is rarely going to go over well. It may make things more difficult for coaches and programs, but it’s the deck is largely already stacked in their favor in most every other instance.

Ex-Michigan State player Keith Appling faces weapons charges

Keith Appling
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DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) Authorities say former Michigan State basketball player Keith Appling faces charges including carrying a concealed weapon after he was found in possession of guns and marijuana in suburban Detroit.

The Wayne County prosecutor’s office says 24-year-old Appling was arrested outside a Dearborn club on Sunday night. Club security called police after seeing a man pull a gun from the trunk of a car.

Prosecutors say Appling was in the driver’s seat of the car when police arrived. Officers found a handgun under the driver’s seat, a loaded weapon in the trunk and a small amount of suspected marijuana.

Weapons and marijuana possession charges were announced Wednesday.

The court says he doesn’t have a lawyer on record.

Appling played for the Spartans from 2010-2014 and plays for the NBA’s development league.